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To: Taoiseach Michael Martin

Stop Family Courts Making Abuse of Women & Children Worse

Stop unregulated experts silencing children and women in the Family Courts

Why is this important?

Unregulated private consultants or 'experts' are routinely used in the Family Law Courts to determine if children should be forced to be 'reconciled' with a parent (usually a father) without any consideration of the children's wishes or reports of evidence of abuse and violence in the home.
Because of the 'in camera' rule there is no exposure of this widespread practice, no data, no oversight or accountability and if women and children speak about what is happening they can be criminalised for breaking the 'in camera' rule.
Very recently a woman's young children were taken without warning from their school in the company of Gardai. They were removed from the care of their mother and the only home they have ever known and forced to live in their father’s house. They are not allowed to see or speak to their mother.
The children have told their teachers, doctor and the social workers what they want and why but the court won’t listen and says they can’t have a voice - on the recommendation of a so called unregulated 'family expert witness'. The 2015 Child and Family Relationship Act says that all children have a right to be heard in matters concerning their lives and should be involved in decisions made about them.
The children’s father has continued to exert power and control through post-separation abuse. The greatest way to hurt her is by taking the children away from her, aided by unregulated experts in the family law courts who are silencing victims of domestic violence and their children.
We hear from many mothers who are victims of domestic and sexual violence, that in the family courts, when it comes to guardianship, custody and access hearings, domestic abuse survivors are not being heard or prioritised. Many of the reports are very similar to the story outlined above.
The reasons offered for these forced separation/reconciliation decisions by 'family court experts' are unreliable. Their arguments draw on concepts that are unscientific and discredited ie. parental alienation.
To stop this 'in plain sight' abuse of children and women who are survivors of violence - scrutiny of the decisions being made in Family Law Courts is urgently needed. Unregulated experts have to be investigated and their decisions published and reviewed. Mandatory training and education, accreditation and accountability for all professionals is desperately needed for all professionals working in the Family Courts. There must be independent monitoring and oversight.
Children should have the right to live free from fear. Our children should never be subjected to forced removal from their home and family and silenced by so called unregulated 'experts'. Children’s views, voice and wishes, their feelings and human rights should be paramount in all decisions by the court regarding contact arrangements.

How it will be delivered

We plan to deliver this petition to the Taoiseach and to ask him to stop unregulated experts working behind the scenes to silence the voices of women and children who are being abused.

Ireland

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Updates

2022-06-25 21:15:28 +0100

500 signatures reached

2022-06-03 09:04:30 +0100

100 signatures reached

2022-06-02 23:01:57 +0100

50 signatures reached

2022-06-02 22:05:48 +0100

25 signatures reached

2022-06-02 20:52:08 +0100

10 signatures reached